Following the underground fire at Impala Platinum’s (Implats) 14 Shaft on Friday, 22 January 2016 in which four employees lost their lives, mine management are engaging with the family members of the deceased to provide support and assistance.
The mine is continuing efforts to extinguish the fire in the main underground decline at 14 Shaft and will only be able to fully assess the damage that has been caused by the fire when it is safe to do so.
The bodies of the four missing employees were discovered by one of the search and rescue teams during the late afternoon of Saturday, 23 January 2016. They were overcome by fumes while they were trying to find their way to safety.
A detailed investigation is continuing to assess the cause of the fire and the damage that has resulted. The fire has reportedly now been extinguished and the six rescue and assessment teams, which are working in the lower reaches of the mine where the fire started, are clearing residual smoke in certain areas.
The telemetry systems on the shaft is showing that gas readings have reduced appreciably as measured at the two primary surface ventilation fans. The system shows that the upper section of the mine is clear, but power has not as yet been restored to the bottom section of the shaft area.
Early indications are that extensive damage has been caused to the conveyor, monorail, power and air reticulation systems.
The Minister of Mineral Resources, the Honourable Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, visited the mine during the afternoon of 24 January 2016 to obtain a full report from mine management. Minster Zwane also met with the deceased employees’ families while we was there.
“This is a tragic loss for everybody and our heart-felt condolences are with the families of the deceased. We are all deeply mourning the loss of our colleagues and our immediate concern is being with the family members to provide the support and counselling needed to get them through this difficult time,” says Implats’ CEO, Terence Goodlace.
"The support we are receiving from the neighbouring mining community and operations, the Department of Mineral Resources, other levels of government and the leadership of the respective unions is gratefully appreciated. My personal thanks must be made to the many people at Impala Rustenburg that have been working tirelessly through the difficult and demanding time."
“Given the tragic loss and need to redouble our efforts to achieve zero harm, we have resolved to close the entire mine to engage the full workforce on our safety readiness and emergency awareness before contemplating reopening the 14 Shaft underground workings again” - Goodlace
"As a department we are very saddened by this tragic incident. The health and safety of workers is of paramount importance and should continue to be a priority in all operations," Minister Zwane said on Sunday.